Years after French, German and English media revealed that Monaco’s reigning monarch, Prince Albert II, had an illegitimate child, the Media Legal Defence Initiative has intervened in the subsequent legal case that has reached the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
The case started when the child’s mother gave interviews to the media saying that she was living in the prince’s Paris apartment and that she received an allowance from him. French, German and English media published the interviews along with photographs showing the child as well as Prince Albert. He sued for invasion of privacy, although he later acknowledged that the child was indeed his.
The case has been referred to the European Court’s ‘Grand Chamber’ at the request of the French government. One of the Court’s lower chambers has already held that the award of damages by a French court for invasion of privacy breached the right to freedom of expression of Paris Match, one of the magazines that published the interview.
The Grand Chamber will hear the case on 15 April 2015. Its ruling is expected to set a new standard for privacy law and the media under European human rights law.
MLDI’s submissions, which have been endorsed by The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters, NRC Media and Il Fatto Quotidiano, emphasise that the child’s mother willingly spoke to the media and that the child has a right to assert his existence and have his identity recognised. Prince Albert’s privacy interests should not outweigh this, particularly given his status as Monaco’s reigning monarch which adds an important public interest element to the story.
MLDI is grateful to Conor McCarthy who drafted our submissions (which can be downloaded below), and to Betto Seraglini, Boekx Advocaten, Prof. Dr. Roger Mann and Prof. Dr. Dirk Voorhoof for their input.
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